It has been an extremely busy and challenging past six months in the world of building officials. We were challenged with, and impacted in huge ways, by the provincial government’s pull towards putting the wants and needs of owners’ ahead of well established and appropriate code enforcement systems. Systems that have always allowed for local authorities to fulfill their duty of care and regulate construction for public safety. This was demonstrated by two initiatives, the Alternative Compliance Model, and the revised Farm Building Advisory. I, like all building officials, have invested in the belief that we have a significant role to play in public safety. I am very proud of how we vigorously defended our position through these new government initiatives.
The Alternative Compliance Model initiative brought forth by our provincial government on October 8th, 2015 I believe, is the biggest challenge our industry has ever faced, and as I stated back in Meadow Lake in the Fall, it will certainly be the most important issue I face in my time serving the Association as President. And that includes the fact that we are still dealing with a government that has not seen fixing 20-year old licensing exams as part of their work plan.
At the very same time, the impact of the revised Farm Building Advisory, which challenged an interpretation that we had all come to understand and have been applying for years, became the focal point of a long drawn out appeal by the second largest pork producing corporation in Canada, and has still not been resolved at the time of the conference. The timing of, and motivation for revising the Advisory certainly aligns with the government’s apparent shift to support owners’ needs over public safety.
We were also faced with having to deal with the BCTC course taken out of commission for many months while the online 2010 version was being completed.
We were faced with many challenges, and through it all, we have accomplished many things, and taken on new initiatives of our own, and have raised the profile of our profession. The following is a list of initiatives and objectives we have taken on, and will continue to work towards:
- We delivered an incredibly well thought out and appropriate response to the ACM consultation, developed by a great team of passionate and engaged Building Officials, with input and support from SBOA members across the province.
- We have supported our members dealing directly with the Farm Building appeal, demonstrating that we are unified in the opinion that the new Advisory has it wrong.
- We started a new initiative with Building Standards to create a Technical Advisory Committee, so that official code interpretations can be well rounded, researched from more than one view, and developed in consultation with many code users.
- We played our role in assisting with the new BCTC course, small as it were due to some other priorities we were being faced with.
- We delivered another successful winter training program in Regina.
- We hired an executive secretary to help ensure continuity of Association business.
- We hired a consultant to look internally at how we conduct our business, and to work on policy gaps, and tighten up how we conduct the business of the SBOA.
- We stayed extremely persistent in pursuit of a face to face meeting with the Minister, and we now have been invited to meet with Minister Reiter in the first week of May.
- We let the Deputy Minister know who we are, and what our concerns are, and as of yesterday, we have been invited to a face-to-face meeting with Deputy Minister Hilton as well.
- Thanks to very positive face-to-face meetings over the ACM, we are now discussing a formalized Standing Committee with SUMA and SARM in order to be able to drive improvements and change that might actually benefit municipalities and code users.
- And last, but not least, the Conference team put together yet another great, informative conference for all of us in Swift Current.
So to say it was a busy period might be an understatement, but I am incredibly proud of how we approached, managed, and took care of our business. Through all this, we showed great strength, professionalism, and unification. We gained huge support from other stakeholders, and fortified strong relationships with our local authority partners SUMA and SARM. We have raised the profile of the SBOA in the eyes of many key stakeholders. Most, if not all have made the point of letting us know they are happy to continue to work with our Association on any common issues in the future. We have great partners, and great partnerships.
Obviously, we have worked hard on our new roles, and new challenges, but I promise you that the SBOA will continue to be the industry leader in Saskatchewan for providing training, skill development, and professional development opportunities for Building Officials, and many other stakeholders. We will continue to demonstrate a strong co-operative spirit, and a professional approach to all our responsibilities. We want to be part of long over-due solutions to many real challenges that face our industry.
We will continue to work towards our association objectives, and to ensure our members have every opportunity to be better building officials.
Thank You, and have a great summer!
Chris Gates, LBO3, A.Sc.T., CRBO